Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Do You Do with Old Magazines?

I'm cleaning out closets and the basement in preparation for our renovations. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I saved every Martha Stewart Living since the charter issue in 1990. I am even more embarrassed to say I really never opened any of them once they were shifted from the coffee table to the basement.

My mother was an inveterate reader and saver of magazines. Our house was often overrun with them -- Woman's Day, Better Homes and Gardens, National Geographics from the 1930s on(I'm ashamed to say I have about ten of those very same National Geographics sitting on the counter where I keep the recycling . . I am having a difficult time actually putting them in the recycling . . .) Every now and then she would decide to go through them before tossing them out. She'd rip out interesting articles as she went along and then she'd stick them in an envelope and send them off to one of her four daughters. No letter, no photos, no "Love, Mom" on a post-it note -- we'd just get an article or a recipe or directions for knitting a scarf.

My sisters and I joked about this habit of hers for years. Then we started doing it ourselves. Just last week I ripped a picture out of a Martha Stewart Living and stuck it in an envelope and sent it off to a friend. It was totally unnecessary, since I was meeting the friend for coffee a few days later, but I couldn't resist the act of putting a magazine page into an envelope and sticking the stamp on. It was, in a sense, an homage to my mother. I really loved getting those envelopes from her when I was far from home. Although she didn't always write a long and newsy letter, I knew she was thinking about me and we'd share our love of reading even though I was a thousand miles or more from home. Such a little thing to do, but so very powerful. I didn't appreciate it enough when she was alive, but I surely do miss it now.

So back to my Martha Stewart Living problem . . . I did what any good McNamara woman would do -- I paged through every single magazine, ripped out what I wanted to keep, mailed some of it out, and then passed the magazines on to a friend. What a relief -- my basement is a lot cleaner and I feel like I have paid tribute to my mom. Great, right? Well, I went to my rug hooking guild's Christmas party last night (you can read about that here) and told them what I was doing. My friend Sue's eyebrows shot up and she said, "You know, people have paid up to $150 for the charter issue of Martha Stewart Living!" So I could have sold the one issue and had enough cash to hire somebody else to clean my basement . . .

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Giveaway from Trudy at Bits of Wool

Trudy at Bits of Wool is having a Christmas Day giveaway. Why not join in the fun? Just visit her blog here and add a comment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Love the Internet

I've been working on some balsam pillows, needle-felting designs on wool, and was looking for a way to make a pattern of a perfect 5-pointed star. So I googled "5 pointed star." The very first site listed was titled "5 Pointed Star in One Snip" and it worked! Apparently -- this was how Betsy Ross made all those stars for her flag. . . Thank you, Betsy! And thank you!

Here's the pillow top, not yet sewn to its bottom. What do you think?

Friday, November 28, 2008

17th Annual Country Parlor Holiday Home Sale

Today's the day! If you are out here on Long Island for Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to stop by!

Friday, November 28, 2008 9 AM to 3 PM
Saturday, November 29 9 AM to 3 PM
Sunday, November 30 10 AM to 2 PM

The Grange
Sound Avenue at Church Lane in Riverhead, New York

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Eclecic Artisans Web Show

It's cold here in Greenport today -- it actually feels like snow. I've built a fire in the wood stove out here in the studio and I've got Christmas carols playing. Cairo is curled up on his cushion. I have to finish up my piece for the TEA show which will held starting November 24th. Just click on the button in the right hand column to get there. I've seen a couple of pieces already and they are delightful.

Friday, November 14, 2008

100th Post

I just realized that I have finally reached 100 posts. I know that in crafter blogland that usually signals a giveaway by the blogger. I am too deep in shows and architects and stuff like that right now, But I am hoping that by the first week of December, I'll be able to announce a giveaway. So stay tuned . . .

In the meantime -- I'd like to wish my husband Peter a very Happy Birthday -- it was yesterday. He was born on Friday the 13th, and his mother always says that is her lucky day . . . We had our wonderful friends Paula and Ann over for dinner -- they make everyday a celebration. I made Tortilla-Wrapped Fish, Aztec Quinoa Salad, Bok Choy, and a green salad for supper. The recipes are from Mesa Mexicana -- a wonderful Mexican cookbook by Mary Milliken and Susan Feniger. It has the best recipe for guacomole, too. For dessert: a Spiced Chocolate Cake with Almond Cream from a very old copy of Bon Appetit. Yummy. I'm looking forward to leftovers for lunch today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rug Hooking Road Trip: Green Mountain Guild Rug Show, Shelburne, Vermont

Barb and I hit the road again last Friday and headed to the Shelburne Museum -- one of my favorites -- for the 13th Annual Hooked in the Mountains Rug Show. It was a less than stellar trip in terms of food, accommodations, and driving, but the show itself was fabulous.

The show is being held in the magnificent round barn on the Museum grounds. This is the second or third year that the show is being held in November and I have to say, the barn was a lot warmer on Saturday than it ever was when the show was held in the spring. There were many fewer rugs this year, which made for a better show. (Amy Oxford photographed a couple of the shows for books, which made every rug hooker from here to Alaska enter every rug they had ever made into those shows, no matter how bad they were. That was sensory overload.)

This year's show is called Expect the Unexpected and features the rugs of Diane Kelly and Rae Harrell. Diane's rugs were enclosed in their own room, with a sign outside that said "Diane's House." The room was set up with furniture and rugs on the walls -- very charming.

Rae Harrell's work is a little more unexpected. She is obviously interested in eastern religions -- she had a hooked piece with a beaded figure that was quite striking. I imagine her stacks of what look like crocheted stones with eyeballs at the top (they reminded me of E.T.) are somehow tied in with the mystical as well.

She also had some braided pieces, including a web-like installation made of braids. My favorite of Rae's unexpected pieces were two dioramas, contained in little painted boxes with small holes that you had to bend down and look through with one eye -- very clever. While some of Rae's more experimental pieces don't always speak to or engage me, I certainly appreciate her spirit of adventure and her willingness to take rug hooking to places it hasn't been before. Her more traditional hooked rugs, which often feature women, are always striking. Peg Irish pointed out to me that Rae often hooks with a particular black and white off-the-bolt wool -- you can find it in almost every piece she hooks.

Speaking of Peg Irish -- she had an interesting piece in the show, too. She abstracted one of the Unicorn tapestries into a small hooked piece. In the photo you can see a picture of the tapestry as well as the finished piece. This rug was done for a class peg will be teaching at the Brookfield Craft Center in Connecticut.

I found this rug really interesting. The color was striking and the hooking was beautifully executed. I'm sorry to say, I didn't get the artist's name.

I didn't get the name of the woman who hooked this little colorful mat either, which presents an unexpected subject matter instead of an unexpected technique.

A few years ago it seemed that everyone was hooking self-portraits in shades of blue -- perhaps now we'll have a rash of colorful hooked male body parts . . .

I liked the border on this rug a lot -- looks like an oriental rug.

Here are a few others that I admired, either for their design, color or technique.

More on the show to come . . .

Hooked in the Mountains XIII: "Expect the Unexpected"
featuring the Hooked Rug Art of Diane Kelly and Rae Harrell.

November 8 – 16, 2008
Round Barn, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont.
Exhibit open 10 AM – 5 PM daily.
Opening reception 5 PM Friday evening, November 7.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History is Made . . .

It's just after 11 pm here in New York. I was going to go to bed early -- didn't think I could stand to watch the election returns. . . But I got pulled in -- and I'm glad I did. Times Square looks like it does on New Years Eve. . . Jesse Jackson is in tears. . . My daughter won't be moving to Canada . . .

Seriously, though. Barack Obama's election is a remarkable event. The only thing that can top it is a woman in the White House. That's next.


Everybody in our house has voted -- including Clara who is technically not in our house right now. Did you vote? There's still time -- so get out there and be a good American!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sign of the Season

I saw these pumpkins on my way to the market the other day. Tomorrow is the big day, so get out and vote -- no matter who you favor. If you don't vote, you can't complain. Clara is happy to be voting in her first presidential election tomorrow. I'm proud of her for taking the time to change her registration so she can vote while she's away at school.

On another subject -- if there is a god of household appliances, please put in a good word for me. About a month ago, our 20 year old microwave died. Got a new one. A week later the washing machine quit working. Had it fixed. Last week -- no hot water. Got the hot water heater fixed. Today -- the drains are backing up. Thankfully, Pete is home to deal with this one. We're waiting on the plumber now. What else can go wrong? Maybe I shouldn't ask . . . .

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I wasn't going to do Hallowen this year, but at the last minute, I ran out and got some candy and 3 little pumpkins. Aren't they cute?

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Peconic Ruggers Rug Show

My guild had their rug show this weekend, in the beautiful Naugles barn at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. We had glorious weather, and a good turn out, as well as a beautiful collection of rugs. Barbara, Judy, and Jennifer did a fantastic job of putting it together, and a host of members pitched in to help.

Here are some pictures of the great rugs on display.

On another note -- we have just found out that the Newtown Rug Show will not be held the third weekend of October in 2009 -- which is a very good thing because that is the NY Sheep and Wool Festival weekend. It will be held on October 3 instead. So mark your calendaers -- Barb and I will be there.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back from Rhinebeck

It was another glorious, glittering autumn weekend in the Hudson Valley. My car windows were frosted both mornings . . . the perfect temperature for indulging in all things wool.

The crowds at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival were absolutely amazing on Saturday. We had lots of returning customers mixed in with the new and we met some online friends, too. I was pleased to see Naomi of Ravens Gate Primitives again. We first met at the Fairfield rug show back in the spring. My friend Christine Henson, owner of Now and Zen Yarns in Greenport, checked in with her husband Charlie Thorp (Charlie built my studio several years ago.) A whole passel of Peconic Ruggers showed up -- they all rode up on the bus with the local spinners' guild: Ron, Barbara, Judy, Jennifer, Sally, Sue all looked exhausted by the end of the day. As always, Abby Vakay -- who was palling with Tracy Jamar -- had boundless energy. It was great to see them all. And Barb and I really enjoy chatting with Toni from The Fold, who sells Socks That Rock yarn. Her booth always has the longest line of customers . . . One of these days I'm going to visit her in Marengo, Illinois and take her silver Audi TT out for a spin . . .

The biggest thrill of the weekend: I was interviewed about rug hooking live on WKZE, the local radio station. The woman who interviewed me was named Sally, who hooks rugs herself, and the owner and manager of the station is named Barb -- which is kind of funny, since my sister's name is Barb and my family calls me Sally . . . Anyway -- I'm glad I didn't hear myself, because I was awfully nervous.

We were so busy I didn't get around much. I did step outside to watch the sheepdog trials for awhile. The dogs were absolutely amazing. I checked out a few of the other vendors, too, and bought some yarn for more socks. I wanted to buy a "Llamas for Obama" pin, but never got around to it. . . they were selling like hot cakes.

So now it's time to get ready for next year's Festival, to be held on October 17 & 18, 2009. Barb and I already have a theme for our booth and I've started drawing sketches for new rugs . . . Hope to see you there!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The New York State Sheep & Wool Festival . . . . . . and a UFO

This is the weekend for the Sheep & Wool Festival -- my favorite show of the year! Please come and visit us in Building A, booth 29. It looks like it will be another crisp October weekend in upstate New York and we are looking forward to visiting with all our friends from years past, as well as all newcomers.

Here's the link to the Festival's website:

It's two days of fun and fiber at the Duchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York. It goes from 10 am to 5 pm both Saturday and Sunday. Hope to see you there.

If you come, you'll see my mermaid rug, the centerpiece of our booth this year. This was one of those UFOs that was hanging over my head -- remember back in January when I resolved to finish some of my unfinished objects? I designed this in a great class at the Shelburne Museum in 2004 -- a dye and design class with Dick LaBarge and George Kahnle. Barb and I took the class together (she hasn't finished her rug yet!). We enjoyed our teachers so much we called the class Fun with Dick and George. They are both talented and funny guys . .

I used a lot of Barb's hand-dyed wool in the rug and am quite pleased with how how it turned out. I fought hooking it the whole way. I really dreaded doing her face. But it all worked out in the end. I call it "Cinnamon Bay Siren" after my favorite beach in the world. Now if somebody would just buy her . . . I have made a pattern of her, too, so if you want to hook up your own version, just drop an email! I'll be incommunicado til Tuesday -- unless, of course, you come to the festival.

Enjoy your weekend.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is It Still Summer?

Cairo and I had a lovely walk on the beach this morning. (As you can see from the photo above, Cairo had a nice swim, too.) If I hadn't seen a busy squirrel run by with a fat black walnut in his mouth, I would have thought it was the middle of July. It has to be close to 70 degrees already, the sun is warm and the air is perfectly still. I wanted to sit on the dock in the sun for awhile, but the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend and I still have work to do!

Cold weather is supposed to move in tonight. I'm hoping the rain stays away so that the weekend is crisp and the leaves stay on the trees upstate until I get there.

I'll post the particulars about the festival tomorrow. On Friday morning I'll set off for Rhinebeck and won't return until Monday.

Enjoy this glorious day!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Happy Birthday

I had another great birthday weekend! The best present of all was a visit from my lovely daughter Clara. She had Thursday off because of Yom Kippur and she doesn't have classes on Friday, so she had a 4 day weekend. We spent Friday together shopping for craft supplies and groceries.

Clara convinced me that we needed to have duck a l'orange for my birthday dinner. (She fell in love with duck when we went to Paris 6 years ago. The hoof and mouth panic was in full swing then and she wouldn't touch beef. I think she ate duck everyday that week . . .) Anyway, Long Island used to be the place for duckling, so we went in search of a duck. We found one at Skelly's farmstand in Aquabogue and roasted it to perfection. We also made wild rice from northern Wisconsin and a salad with some of the last tomatoes of the season.

Clara brought my birthday cake all the way from Mrs. London's Bakery in Saratoga Springs. (Mrs. London;s is owned by the same fellow who own's Max London's, where Clara, Barb and I had one of our best meals ever earlier this year.) It's called, I think, Chocolate Raspberry Supreme and is layers of chocolate mousse and raspberry glaze surrounded by molded dark chocolate. It's fabulous! (There's still some left . . .) Here's a photo of Clara and the cake:

Thanks to Clara and Pete for a lovely birthday, and to all my friends for the kind birthday wishes -- especially Paula -- who always knows when I need to talk to her.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Newtown Rug Show & Hallockville Fall Festival

There was a stiff wind blowing from the west this morning as Cairo and I walked the beach. Fall is here at last and that means that Barb and I are gearing up for our big show season.

Our first 2 shows are this weekend. The Newtown Rug Show is Saturday, October 4, 2008,9:30 to 3 pm, 3 Trades Lane, Newtown CT 06470, (203) 270-8293. June Myles will be speaking and Trish Becker will be leading a workshop. For more information, go to

Our second show is the Hallockville Fall Festival, Saturday and Sunday, October 4 & 5, 2008, 10 am to 5 pm, 6038 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, NY 11901. As well as craft vendors you;lll find live music, a tractor pull, cows, sheep & chickens, children's activities, and museum tours. For more information, go to

Barb and I hope to see you this weekend!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rug Patterns for Sale

I now have a button in the right hand column that will link you to a site where you can view and purchase my rug hooking and needle punch patterns. This is a temporary fix until my website is ready, but I think it will work pretty well.

Barb and I are working away getting ready for our first 2 shows of the season this coming weekend, so I don't have the patterns loaded up yet, but I promise it won't be long until I do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I'm Working On

I spent the weekend working on the little 3-dimensional pumpkins pictured above with a frog made by Pat Castka. I am thrilled with them and am thinking of making a bigger one -- about 5 inches across. They are hooked on rug warp with 100% wool that I have over-dyed. They're finished with a real piece of birch for the stem on top and a vintage button on the bottom. I think they will be for sale on The Eclectic Artisans' webshow which starts on September 22. Clink the link on the right for more information.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rebecca Erb Wool

I was lucky enough to receive a very generous gift certificate to The Wool Studio from the Peconic Ruggers when I stepped down as president last year. That was last November, and I just got around to redeeming it.

If you're a rug hooker and you don't know The Wool Studio's wool, you should. It is delicious. Rebecca Erb sells fabulous tweeds and plaids that she has woven in Europe. She has a website (, but, sadly, she does not sell from it. You must send $5 for swatches. That's the one drawback for me -- I love being able to order day or night on my computer. Getting the stack of wool pictured above took a bit of back and forth -- no instant gratification here. But the wool is worth it. I've already used some of the orange in a small mat with fall leaves and I'm looking forward to trying that sunny yellow check in something soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's Tumbleweed Tuesday . . .

. . . one of my favorite days of the year. The tourists have all gone home! I can park at the post office when I have packages! I can let the dog run on the beach and swim to his heart's content! I don't have to listen to the bad live music from Claudio's Restaurant at one in the morning! It's heaven. . . .

My knee is healing well and rapidly. I've been going to physical therapy, which I really enjoy -- go figure. I think I'm going to join their fitness center when I finish with the PT.

We had a great trip to Lake Champlain to visit friends this weekend. We delivered Clara safely back to Skidmore and she starts classes tomorrow. Pete and I will be canning tomatoes this afternoon. All's right with the world!

Now I have to get ready for all the shows Barb and I are doing this fall . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I've Been Out of Commission . . .

I rolled over in bed last Tuesday morning and my knee locked. My husband was away, my daughter was away -- it was just me and the dog and he was no help. This was actually the second time this has happened since I tore the ACL in my left knee more than a decade ago, so I knew exactly what the problem was and what had to be done. So at 6:30 am I got dressed, slid down the stairs on my bottom, got my crutches out of the basement and drove myself to the emergency room.

We North Forkers are lucky to have Eastern Long Island Hospital at our disposal. It is perched on the shore of Sterling Creek and every window you look out of has a terrific water view and every person who works there is friendly and knows someone who knows you. The emergency room staff, the x-ray technician, the MRI guy -- they all took such great care of me and listened to what I had to say. By the time I got home at 2:30 that afternoon, I had seen an orthopedist, had x-rays and an MRI and had surgery scheduled to remove a torn piece of meniscus on Thursday morning, exactly 48 hours after my knee locked.

And it gets even better! When I had this same arthroscopic surgery done about 10 years ago, it hurt like the Dickens. This time: no pain! The crutches hurt more than the surgery! I go for a check up tomorrow and am hoping that the doc will let me off the crutches -- I hate them with a passion!

While I am very grateful to everyone at Eastern Long Island for their help, my undying thanks go to my neighbor Seth who drove me to and from the hospital, picked up my prescription, checked on me throughout the day, took care of the dog, and even picked my husband up at the airport. I will be baking lots of pies for Seth when I can stand on two feet again. He is my hero.

Anyway -- that's where I've been and what I've been doing for the last week. I will be glad to be able to move around freely again and to not watch cooking shows on tv. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to see someone making this great recipe and you can't even go to the grocery to buy the ingredients, never mind stand at a stove and cook . . .

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chesnut Bay Quilting and Crafts

After making the move from eastern Long Island, quilter and horsewoman Patty Cline and her family settled in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of upstate New York. There's lots of space for horses up there, and lots of room for Patty to set up her long-arm quilting machine. A quilting and craft shop was a natural progression for her, and this weekend marks the opening of her new shop, Chestnut Bay Quilting and Crafts.

Chestnut Bay is housed in a beautiful stone home built in the late 1800s by a doctor who lived in the main part of the house and used part of the downstairs as his office. Here are some interior shots from a couple of months ago -- Patty was still setting up, but you can see what a neat space she has.

Patty very kindly asked if I wanted to send her some rugs to sell, so if you stop by you'll see a few of my things. My sister Barb's whimsical creations will also be available at the shop, along with lots of other stuff made by lots of talented people.

If you are in the Finger Lakes area, stop by and see Patty and tell her Sarah sent you! If gas prices come down a bit, I'm hoping to get up there myself. (It's a 7 hour drive from Greenport!)

Chestnut Bay Quilting
3128 Main Street
Caledonia, New York 14423
(585) 538-4420

Monday, July 21, 2008

Progress Report

I've been working on Lucille's rug a little bit every day, despite the heat. These photos show the progress.

I don't care to hook on burlap and the humidity makes it worse. I bought a portable air conditioner for the studio and it is not working very well. It dries out the air, but doesn't cool it. Sometimes it is hotter in the studio than outside. . . So it is going back to the store tomorrow.

I don't know if it is advancing age, or if this July is really hotter and more humid than those in the past, but I am continually out of sorts. Consequently, I'm not getting much accomplished. Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rug Hooking Makes the Nightly News

Really! It was a very brief cameo, but there was a woman hooking in a news report on the mortgage problem last night! The report was about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When they talked about their creation during the depression they showed clips of FDR and an elderly woman bent over her hooking frame! Go here to see the clip. It's about half way through and only lasts a second.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hip, Hip, Hooray for Dara Torres!

Dara Torres is going to the Olympics yet again! Forty-one years old and a mom and she is beating teenagers! What a great role model. She just won the 100 meter freestyle. I was so excited, I had to text message Clara at her 4th of July BBQ. Clara started swimming competitively when she was about twelve. She gave it up her first year of college, but is now dying to get back in the pool. She's worried she'll be too old and too out of shape, but Dara Torres is proof positive that you're never too old to swim fast.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Reading

One of my great joys on Saturday morning is listening to National Public Radio while I'm scouting yard sales or doing errands. I love all the comedy shows -- Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I'm sure other drivers think I'm crazy, speeding down the road while laughing my head off. Of course, I like the non-comedic NPR shows as well. I've been known to pull over to the side of the road to write down the name of an author or musician for future consumption. Last Saturday, June 28, Scott Simon of Weekend Edition spoke with Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's son, who turned 80 that day, and inspired me to revisit his father's work.

I have never been a Hemingway fan. I read him in high school and as an English Major had to read him again in college. Sadly, his writing never spoke to me, and the superficial image of him as a macho, gun-toting, heavy-drinking hot shot turned me off. But -- I loved listening to his son the other day. He takes the stewardship of his father's books and name very seriously, but still has a great sense of humor. (Patrick told the story of someone he met about 15 years ago who told him how much he admired his work, and that his favorite book was The Grapes of Wrath. Both Hemigway and Steinbeck must have turned over in their graves . . .) My favorite quote from the radio interview is this: "Literature is what intelligent people have instead of dope." It made me laugh. My husband says I read too much. I cannot go to sleep at night if I have not read at least a chapter of my current book. Right now I have 4 books going at once. . . I guess I am a reading addict.

Anyway, I liked Patrick Hemingway so much, I decided to put away my prejudices, and read his father's work again. I went to the library and took out a rather dog-eared copy of A Farewell to Arms. I've read a couple of chapters and do believe I am liking it a bit better than I did 35 years ago . . . So we'll see.

Here's another gem I'll be reading this summer: Hooked Rugs and How to Make Them written by Anna M. Laise Phillips and published in 1925. I recently added this to my rug hooking library after winning it on ebay.

Here is the forward to this little book:

"Out of darkness cometh light, out of chaos cometh order, after sorrow cometh joy.

Sometimes I wonder if the thing itself is as important as the reason for its being; and in view of the darkness and dawn, the chaos and then the order, the trials and then the joy of our work, it seems that the things we do are but the outlet of our inner selves. We grope in darkness and then suddenly over our world comes a light, softly stealing away all the shadows. We may remain in the spot where once it was dark, yet just because of a little thing, a circumstance, perhaps, that place is forever glorified and black darkness is forgotten in the light of a new activity."

Whew. Heavy duty stuff for a rug hooker . . . Rug hooking isn't even mentioned until the second page, after Satan is introduced. This is a far cry from current books about rug hooking, which are filled with dye recipes and color photos of faces hooked in shades of blue. . . I'll be getting a religious education as well as some tips on creating the perfect rug.

My third and last suggestion for summer reading is much lighter. I am a big fan of mysteries, especially British mysteries. Give me a new P. D. James or Ian Rankin and I'll have it read in a matter of hours. But there are some great American mystery writers out there, too. Lisa Richland, the director of William Floyd Memorial Library here in Greenport, highly recommended this first novel by Cornelia Read to me. A Field of Darkness is the title, and I find myself rereading passages that are so beautifully written I wish I'd written them myself. Her second novel is out now, The Crazy School, and I am looking forward to reading that as well.

So that's my current reading list. Any suggestions to add to it? Just leave me a comment . . .

Friday, June 27, 2008

A New Project

A friend of mine has hired me to finish a rug for her. She hurt her rotator cuff and can no longer hook. I've never really wanted to finish someone else's work before -- especially a pattern drawn out on burlap -- but Lucille is one of the sweetest people I know. So when she asked if I knew anyone who could do this rug for her, I offered up my own services.

The pattern is called Kit's Treasure by Patsy Becker. It is very simple and the center motif is already completed. I just have to fill in the background and figure out a border. I started hooking this morning, and it is more difficult than I imagined it would be. I hook much more closely than Lucille does, so I am having to go a little slower than I normally do so I can match her style.

I've been a little scattered lately, so I thought this project might get me back on track. I am keeping a record of the time I spend hooking, something I don;t normally do. Since it feels like a real job and I want to get it done in a timely manner, I need to keep myself on track. One of tricks to keeping myself seated at my frame -- Netflix. I find shows, often British mysteries, that are serialized, and I watch them on my computer out in the studio. The time flies by and so does the hooking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Remember the 6 Million Dollar Man?

Well, I own the Million Dollar Mutt. Poor Cairo has been suffering with nasal problems since February. He was on 3 round of antibiotics, had xrays and blood tests and was finally sent to a very expensive specialist for a very expensive rhynoscopy and CT scan. After all that -- the diagnosis is: he suffers from allergies. He has been on a puff of Flovent (a human medication that costs over $100) twice a day. It helped for a while, but the last few days he's been miserable. I have to take tissues along when we go for walks, because the green goo coming out of his nose is just disgusting.

So we went to the vet AGAIN this morning and he is now on 3 medications. He had lots of blood drawn for an allergy screening, so I am hoping that by next week I will be able to do something constructive to help the poor little guy so he can breathe easier and I can get a good night's sleep. We also found out that he has Lyme's, so the antibiotic will hopefully take care of that as well.

My biggest worry is that he will be allergic to wool and will have to stay out of my studio. He follows me everywhere -- even to the bathroom -- so it will be traumatic for him if he can't sleep on the couch in my work room while I hook. Of course, I'll be napping there myself this afternoon, seeing as Cairo woke me up at 3 am and I never fell back asleep . . .

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy 20th Birthday, Clara!

Today is my lovely daughter's 20th birthday! She is no longer a teenager -- and every mother of a teenager out there knows what that means!

Clara actually got out of bed before noon today, so she has already opened her presents. I'm about to ice her chocolate birthday cake, and we will be having dinner at her favorite restaurant tonight. She is a fantastic kid -- and she deserves every good thing she gets. . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pennies from Heaven

I love penny rugs. I especially love the penny rugs made by my friend Jean Witt of Bluejean Primitives. Her pennies are about authentic as you can get outside of a museum. Her handwork is of the highest quality and is always completely original.

I'm lucky enough to own the mat pictured above. You can see how precisely Jean has cut the pennies and the amazing number of stitches she uses around each one. Jean also has a unique aging process that adds to the charm of her rugs. Barb and I brought several of Jean's rugs to our shows last fall and people were awed by them. One woman thought they had been made during the civil war and couldn't understand why they were in such great shape! One of our best and favorite customers bought a long penny rug to make into a purse! So lots of people are inspired by Jean's handiwork -- including me! Here's a rug I hooked as an homage to Jean's pennies -- it pales in comparison to the real thing.

And, yes, Jean's pennies are the real thing. Don't be fooled by cheap imitations! Just click here for her website. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Strawberry Season

It's strawberry season here on the East End of Long Island. To celebrate Fathers' Day and our 23rd wedding anniversary, Pete, Clara and I went strawberry picking at Mrs. Domaleski's strawberry patch in Mattituck. Mrs. Domaleski is as sweet as her strawberries and we had fun picking 10 quarts of them. We hulled them all when we got home. I made strawberry shortcake using my mom's recipe -- crumbly and not too sweet -- and Pete crushed some berries up with sugar to freeze so he could have them for breakfast in the dead of winter. We also froze some whole because we love to make fruit smoothies for breakfast on hot summer days.

Pete called his dad yesterday for Fathers' Day. He and my mother-in-law live way up in northern Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior. They are avid berry pickers -- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries -- whatever is in season. Their strawberry season won't start for 3 weeks, just about the time ours will end. We may have to go for a visit . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Finished Product

Here's the sheep rug, all finished! It is available on The Eclectic Artisans web show, which will be open until June 23rd.